« PreviousContinue »
Herder has justly remarked, what å have been denominated the logos or childish part would the Free-masons word without offence to the scrupube playing after the restoration! lous austerity of that age in matters With this event their object was ac- of religion. What was it then that complished: to what purpose then the Freemasons really did mean by any further mysteries The very the lost word? Manifestly the maground of the mysteries had thus sonic mystery itself, the secret wisfallen away; and, according to all dom delivered to us under a figuraanalogy of experience, the mysteries tive veil through Moses, Solomon, themselves should have ceased at the the prophets, the grand master Christ, same time.
and his confidential disciples. Briefly But the Free-masons called them- they meant the lost word of God in selves at that time Sons of the Widow the Cabbalistic sense ; and therefore (i. e. as it is alleged, of Henrietta it was that long after the Restoration Maria the wife of the murdered they continued to seek it, and are king); and they were in search of still seeking it to this day. the lost word (the Prince of Wales). III. That Cromwell was not the This, it is argued, has too near an founder of Free-masonry :agreement with the history of that As Nicolai has chosen to represent period—to be altogether a fiction. I the elder Free-masons as zealous answer that we must not allow our Royalists, so on the contrary others selves to be duped by specious re- have thought fit to describe them as semblances. The elder Free-masons furious democrats. According to this called themselves Sons of the Widow, fiction, Cromwell with some because the working masons called and fidential friends (e. g. Ireton, Alstill call themselves bythatname agree- gernon Sidney, Neville, Martin Wildably to their legend. In the 1st Book of man, Harrington, &c.) founded the
Kings, vii. 13, are these words :- order in 1645_ostensibly, on the -“ And King Solomon sent and fetched part of Cromwell, for the purpose of Hiram of Tyre, a widow's son of the reconciling the contending parties in tribe of Napthali." Hiram therefore, religion and politics, but really with the eldest mason of whom anything a view to his own ambitious projects. is known, was a widow's son. Hence To this statement I oppose the foltherefore the masons of the 17th cen- lowing arguments : tury, who were familiar with the First, it contradicts the internal Bible, styled themselves in memory character and spirit of Free-masonry of their founder Sons of the Widow ; -which is free from all political tenand the Free-masons borrowed this dency, and is wholly unintelligible designation from them as they did on this hypothesis. the rest of their external constitution. Secondly, though it is unquesMoreover, the masonic expression tionable that Cromwell established Sons of the Widow has the closest and supported many secret conconnexion with the building of Solo- nexions, yet the best English histomon's Temple.
rians record nothing of any connexion Just as little did the Free-masons which he had with the Free-masons. mean, by the lost word which they Divide et impera was the Machiavesought, the Prince of Wales. That lian maxim which Cromwell derived, great personage was not lost, so that not from Machiavel, but from his own there could be no occasion for seek. native political sagacity: and with ing him. The Royal party knew such an object before him it is very as well where he was to be found as little likely that he would have sought in our days the French Royalists to connect himself with a society that have always known the residence of aims at a general harmony amongst the emigrant Bourbons. The ques- men. tion was not-where to find him, but Thirdly, how came it, if the orhow to replace him on his throne. der of Free-masons were the instruBesides, though a most majestic per- ment of the Cromwellian revolution son in his political relations, a Prince —that the royalists did not exert of Wales makes no especial preten- themselves after the restoration of sions to sanctity of character: and Charles Il. to suppress it? familiar as scriptural allusions were But the fact is that this origin of in that age, I doubt whether he could Free-masonry has been forged for the purpose of making it hateful and teriously to work. It strengthened an object of suspicion to monarchical their sense of this necessity-that states. See for example “ The Free- one of their own, members, Sir masons Annihilated, or Prosecution Richard Willis, became suspected of of the detected Order of Free-masons," treachery; and therefore out of the Frankfort and Leipzig, 1746. The bosom of their “ secret conclape first part of this work, which is a (the masonic master's degree) they translation from the French, appear- resolved to form a still narrower coned under the title of “ Free-masonry clave to whom the Scotch, i. e. the exposed,” &c. Leipz. 1745.
most secret, affairs should be confidIV, That the Scotch degree, as it ed. They chose new symbols adaptis called, did not arise from the ed to their own extremely critical Intrigues for the restoration of situation. These symbols imported Charles II.;
that, in the business of this interior I have no intention to enter upon conclave, wisdom-obedience--cour the tangled web of the modern higher rage-self-sacrifice-and moderation masonry; though, from an impartial were necessary. Their motto was study of the historical documents, I Wisdom above thee. For greater secould perhaps bring more light, or- curity they altered their signs, and der, and connexion into this subject reminded each other in their tottering than at present it exhibits. Many condition not to stumble and-break personal considerations move, me to the arm," let the curtain drop on the history of I do not deny that there is much
the modern higher masonry, or at plausibility in this hypothesis of Ni.most to allow myself only a few ge- colai's : but upon examination it will neral hints which miay be pursued by appear that it is all pure delusion those amongst my readers who may without any basis of historical truth. be interested in such a research. 1. Its validity rests upon the preOne only of the higher masonic de- vious assumption that the interpregrees, viz. the Scotch degree which tation of the master's degree, as conis the most familiarly known and is nected with the political interests of adopted by most lodges, I must no- the Stuarts, between the death of - tice more circumstantially-because, Charles I. and the restoration of his upon some statements which have son, is correct : it is therefore a petibeen made, it might seem to have tio principii : and what is the value of been connected with the elder Free- the principium, we have already seen. masonry,
Nicolai's account of this 2. Of any participation on the part matter is as follows:
of a secret society of Free-masons in “ After the death of Cromwell and the counsels and expedition of Gen. the deposition of his son, the govern- Monk-history tells us absolutely ment of England fell into the hands nothing. Even Skinner preserves a of a violent but weak and disunited profound silence on this head. Now, faction. In such hands, as every if the fact were so, to suppose that patriot saw, the government could not this accurate biographer should not be durable; and the sole means for have known it-is absurd: and, delivering the country was to restore knowing it, that he should designedthe kingły authority. But in this ly suppress a fact so curious and so there was the greatest difficulty; for honourable to the Free-masons athe principal officers of the army in mongst the Royal party-is inex. England, though otherwise in dis- plicable. agreement with each other, were yet 3. Nicolai himself maintains, and unanimous in their hostility to the even proves, that Monk was not king. Under these circumstances the himself a Free-mason. In what way eyes of all parties were turned upon then could the society gain any inthe English army in Scotland, at fluence over his measures. My sathat time under the command of gacious friend justly applauds the Monk who was privately well affect- politic mistrust of Monk (who would ed to the royal cause; and the secret not confide his intentions even to his society of the king's friends in Lon- own brother), his secrecy, and the don, who placed all their hopes on mysterious wisdom of his conduct; him, saw the necessity in such a cric and in the very same breath he detical period of going warily and mys- scribes him as surrendering hiniself
to the guidance of a society with V. The Free-masons are not de. which he was not even connected as rived from the order of the Knights a member. How is all this to be re- Templars :conciled ?
No hypothesis upon the origin and Undoubtedly there existed at that primitive tendency of the Free-matime in London a secret party of sons has obtained more credit in Royalists-known in history under modern times than this—That they the name of the secret Conclave: but were derived from the order of we are acquainted with its members, Knights Templars so cruelly persen and there were but some few Free- cuted and ruined under Pope Clemasons amongst them.- Nicolai al- ment V. and Philip the Fair of leges the testimony of Ramsay, France, and had no other secret pur« that the restoration of Charles II. pose on their first appearance than to the English throne was first con- the re-establishment of that injured certed in a society of Free-masons, order. So much influence has this because Gen. Monk was a member opinion had in France that in the of it.” But in this assertion of Ram- first half of the 18th century it led say's there is at any rate one mani- to the amalgamation of the external fest untruth on Nicolai's own show- forms and ritual of the Templars with ing: for Monk, according to Nicolai, those of the Free-masons; and some was not a Free-mason. The man, who of the higher degrees of French ma. begins by such an error in his pre- sonry have undoubtedly proceeded mises, must naturally err in his con- from this amalgamation.-In Gerelusions.*
many it was Lessing, who if not first, 4. The Scotch degree, nay the yet chiefly, gave to the learned world very name of Scotch masonry, does an interest in this hypothesis by some not once come forward in the el. allusions to it scattered through bis der Free-masonry throughout the masterly dialogues for Free-masons. whole of the 17th century;
as it must With many it became a favourite inevitably have done if it had borne hypothesis: for it assigned an hoany relation to the restoration of nourable origin to the Masonic order, Charles II. Indeed it is doubtful and flattered the vanity of its memwhether the Scotch degree was known bers. The Templars were one of the even in Scotland or in England be- most celebrated knightly orders durfore the third decennium of the eigh- ing the crusades: their whole Institeenth century.
tution, Acts, and Tragical Fate, are But how then did this degrec arise? attractive to the feelings and the What is its meaning and object? The fancy : how natural therefore it was answer to these questions does not be- that the modern masons should seize long to this place. It is enough on the with enthusiasm upon the conjecpresent occasion to have shown how it tures thrown out by Lessing. Some did not arise, and what were not its modern English writers have also meaning and object. I am here treat- adopted this mode of explaining the ing of the origin and history of the origin of Free-masonry; not so much elder and legitimate masonry, not of on the authority of any historical doan indecent pretender who crept at a cuments, as because they found in later period into the order, and, by the French lodges degrees which had the side of the Lion—the Pelican a manifest reference to the Templar and the Dove, introduced the Ape institutions, and which they naturaland the Fox.
ly attributed to the elder Free-ma
Andrew Michael Ramsay was a Scotchman by birth, but lived chiefly in France where he became a Catholic, and is well known as the author of “the Travels of Cy. rus," and other works. His dissertation on the Free-masons contains the old legend that Free-masonry dated its origin from a guild of working masons, who resided during the crusades in the Holy Land for the purpose of rebuilding the Christian churches destroyed by the Saracens, and were afterwards summoned by a king of England to his own dominions. As tutor to the two sons of the Pretender, for whose use he wrote “ The Travels of Cyrus,” Ramsay is a distinguished person in the history of the later Freemasonry. Of all that part of its history, which lay half a century before his own time, he was however very ill-informed. On this he gives us nothing but the cant of the later English lodges, who had lost the kernel in the shell- the original essence and object of masonry in its formas early as the beginning of the eighteenth century.
sonry, being ignorant that they had ters have communicated their here. been purposely introduced at a later ditary right to others in order to experiod to serve an hypothesis: in fact tend their own power; and from this the French degrees had been origi- period, it is said, begins the public pally derived from the hypothesis; history of Free-masonry. (See "The and now the hypothesis was in turn Use and Abuse of Free-masonry by derived from the French degrees. Captain George Smith, Inspector of If in all this there were any word of the Royal Military School at Wooltruth, it would follow that I had wich, &c. &c. London, 1783.” See written this whole book of 418 pages also,“ Scotch Masonry compared to no purpose: and what a shocking with the three Vows of the Order and thing would that be! Knowing with the Mystery of the Knights therefore the importance to myself of Templars: from the French of Nicothis question, it may be presumed las de Bonneville."). that I have examined it not negli- Such is the legend, which is aftergently-before I ventured to bring wards supported by the general forward my own deduction of the analogy between the ritual and exFree-masons from the Rosicrucians, ternal characteristics of both orders, This is not the place for a full cri- The three degrees of masonry (the tique upon all the idle prattle about holy masonic number) are compared the Templars and the Free-masons: with the triple office of general but an impartial review of the argu- amongst the Templars. The maments for and against the Templar sonic dress is alleged to be copied hypothesis may reasonably be de- from that of the Templars. The manded of me as a negative attesta- signs of Free-masonry are the same tion of my own hypothesis. In do- with those used in Palestine by the ing this I must presume in my reader Templars. The rights of initiation, a general acquaintance with the con- as practised on the admission of a stitution and history of the Tem- novice, especially on admission to plars, which it will be very easy for the master's degree, and the symboany one not already in possession of lic object of this very degree, are all it to gain.
connected with the persecution of 1. It is alleged that the masonic the Templars, with the trial of the mystical allegory represented nothing knights, and the execution of the else in its capital features than the grand-master. To this grand-maspersecution and overthrow of the ter (James Burg) the letters I and
Templars, especially the dreadful B, which no longer meån Jachin and death of the innocent grand-master Boaz, are said to point. Even the James Burg de Mollay. Some knights holiest masonic name of Iliram has together with Aumont, it is said, no other allusion than to the murmade their escape in the dress of dered grand-master of the Templars. masons to Scotland; and, for the With regard to these analogics in sake of disguise, exercised the trade general, it may be sufficient to say of masons. This was the reason that some of them are accidental that they adopted symbols from that some very forced and far-soughttrade; and, to avoid detection, gave and some altogether fictitious. Thus them the semblance of moral pur- for instance it is said that the name poses. They called themselves Franc Franc Maçon was chosen in allusion Maçons : as well in memory of the to the connexion of the Templars Templars who in Palestine were als with Palestine. And thus we are ways called Franks by the Saracens, required to believe that the eldest as with a view to distinguish them- Free-masons of Great Britain styled selves from the common working themselves at first Frank Masons : masons. The Temple of Solomon, as if this had any warrant from hiswhich they professed to build, toge- tory: or, supposing even that it had, ther with all the masonic attributes, as if a name adopted on such a ground pointed. collectively to the grand could ever have been dropped. The purpose of the society--the restora- simple fact is that the French were tion of the Templar order. At first the people who first introduced the society was confined to the de. the seeming allusion to Franks by scendants of its founders: but with- translating the English name Free. in the last 150 years the Scotch masa mason into Franc Maçon; which
they did because the word libre would chitects with whom Sir Christopher not so easily blend into composition consulted on any difficulties which with the word Maçon. So also the arose in the progress of the work. late Mr. Von Born, having occasion This mistake Wren turned to acto express the word Free-masons in count. He had formerly assisted in Latin, rendered it Franco-murarii. planning a society which should Not to detain the reader however make speculative truths more useful with a separate examination of each for purposes of common life: the particular allegation, I will content very converse of this idea now occurmyself with observing that the capi- red to him-viz. the idea of a society tal mythus of the masonic master's which should raise itself from the degree tallies but in one half with praxis of civil life to speculation. the execution of the grand master of “ In the former,” thought he, “would the Templars, or even of the Sub- be examined all that was useful Prior of Montfaucon (Charles de amongst the true; in this all that is Monte Carmel). The grand-master true amongst the useful. How if I was indeed murdered, as the grand- should make some principles of the master of the Free-masons is de masony exoteric? How if I should scribed to have been; but not, as the disguise that which cannot be made latter, by treacherous journeymen : exoteric, under the hieroglyphics and moreover the latter rose from the symbols of masonry, as the people grave, still lives, and triumphs: pronounce the word; and extend which will hardly he said of James this masonry into a free-masonry, in Burg de Mollay. Two arguments which all may take a share?” In however remain to be noticed, both this way, according to Lessing, did out of respect to the literary emi- Wren scheme; and in this way did nence of those who have alleged Free-masonry arise. Afterwards them, and also because they seem in- however, from a conversation which trinsically of some weight.
he had with Nicolai, it appears that 2. The English word masonry. Lessing had thus far changed his This word, or (as it ought in that first opinion (as given in the Ernst case to be written the word masony und Falk) that he no longer supposed is derived, according to Lessing, Sir Christopher simply to have modi. from the Anglo-Saxon
word massoney fied a massoney, or society of Knights --a secret commensal society; which Templars which had subsisted secretly last word again comes from mase, for many centuries, and to have transa table. Such table societies, and lated their doctrines into an exoteric compotuses, were very common a- shape, but rather to have himself first mongst our forefathers—especially established such a massoney-upon amongst the princes and knights of some basis of analogy however with the middle ages: the weightiest af- the elder massoneys. fairs were there transacted ; and pe- To an attentive examiner of this culiar buildings were appropriated conjecture of Lessing's, it will appear to their use. In particular the ma- that it rests entirely upon the presonies of the Knights Templars were sumed identity of meaning between highly celebrated in the 13th century: the word massoney and the word maone of them was still subsisting in sony (or masonry as it afterwards London at the end of the 17th cen- became, according to the allegation, tury-at which period, according to through a popular mistake of the Lessing, the public history of the meaning).. But the very meaning Free-masons first commences. This and etymology ascribed to massoney society had its house of meeting near (viz. a secret club or compotus, from St. Paul's Cathedral, which was then mase a table) are open to much rebuilding. Sir Christopher Wren, doubt. Nicolai, a friend of Lessing's, the architect, was one of its mem- professes as little to know any aubers. For 30 years, during the thority for such an explanation as building of the Cathedral, he con- myself ; and is disposed to derive the tinued to frequent it. From this cir- word massoney from massonya which cumstance the people, who had for- in the Latin of the middle age meant gotten the true meaning of the word first a club (clava, in French massue), massoney, took it for a society of ar- -secondly, a key (clavis), and a se